Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia has started its 2019 season with a strong return to Symmons Plains Raceway, with Ryan Suhle and Sam Shahin setting the practice pace at the Tasmanian circuit.
Despite the threat of rain, the two Friday practice sessions were held in dry conditions – a benefit for the 22 Porsche racers, many entering the round with limited experience on the 2.41km layout.
Pace-setter Suhle was one of the few GT3 Cup Challenge drivers with previous Symmons Plains experience having raced at the Tasmanian circuit last season in the Australian Formula 4 series. Suhle’s best practice two lap of 52.9376secs was just 0.0005secs quicker than Aaron Love’s lap of 52.9381 set in the opening practice session.
“I definitely came here with the intention of being up the front of the field and it was fantastic to come away with the quickest time of the day in the second practice session,” said Suhle.
“Having done a bit of simulator work and having been here before in Formula 4 I felt really confident coming here as there hasn’t been too many changes to the track. Today was just about adapting to the car – compared to the F4 – which went very well.”
Behind Suhle and Love on the combined practice timesheet was reigning Class B champion Christian Pancione, Max Vidau and Australian Formula 3 Champion Harri Jones in fifth.
Leading the way in the TAG Heuer Pro-Am was Sam Shahin, who topped both sessions in class and was rivalling the pace of the Pro drivers throughout Friday, ultimately finishing with the sixth best outright time of the day.
“I’m thrilled and surprised to top both sessions in class, to be honest. I’ve never been to this race track before and it felt quite intimidating doing the track walk this morning at 6:30am in the dark. I’m therefore over the moon that today went so well,” said Shahin.
“It’s very technical, there’s not a lot of room for mistakes and it’s a big Porsche field this weekend so everyone has to behave. Qualifying will be very interesting, trying to get a clean lap in a big field on such a short track.
“I’m really looking forward to the longer race one. I love long races; I’m one of the older drivers here and I’m like a diesel engine – I take a while to warm up but keep on going. Hopefully we have some clean racing and put on a good show.”
Brett Boulton was the next best in the TAG Heuer Pro-Am class from Sergio Pires and Ross McGregor in the Victorian’s 30th GT3 Cup Challenge round start.
Meanwhile, Emanuel Palyaris was the best of the Class B runners from former class champion David Greig, Nathan Murray, Andrew Goldie and Tony Martin.
The GT3 Cup Challenge race lap record will likely fall this weekend. The best race lap of 54.512secs was set by Matt Kingsley in his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 996) during the series’ last Symmons Plains Raceway visit in 2010, with Friday’s pace indicating that the nine-year record will likely be eclipsed.
Qualifying will be held on Saturday morning, which will set the grid for the opening Jim Richards Endurance Trophy race of the season at 12:25pm. Race two will then be held at 3:25pm later on Saturday before Sunday’s race three.
All remaining sessions from the opening round of the 2019 Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia season can be viewed live on both Fox Sports 506 and streaming service Kayo.
Saturday April 06, 2019
9:20am Qualifying (20 minutes)
12:25pm Race 1 (38 laps)
3:25pm Race 2 (28 Laps)
Sunday April 07, 2019
12:50pm Race 3 (28 laps)
Television and Streaming Schedule (local time)
Channel: Fox Sports 506 & Kayo
Qualifying – 9:20am, Saturday April 06
Race 1 – 12:25pm, Saturday April 06
Race 2 – 3:25pm, Saturday April 06
Race 3 – 12:50pm, Sunday April 07
Combined Practice Times (P1 & P2)
1. #7 Ryan Suhle (Pro) 0:52.9376)
2. #78 Aaron Love (Pro) 0:52.9381 (-0:00.0005)
3. #76 Christian Pancione (Pro) 0:52.9900 (-0:00.0524)
4. #77 Max Vidau (Pro) 0:53.0007 (-0:00.0631)
5. #12 Harri Jones (Pro) 0:53.0940 (-0:00.1564)
6. #13 Sam Shahin (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 0:53.2835 (-0:00.3459)
7. #777 Cameron Crick (Pro) 0:53.5452 (-0:00.6076)
8. #26 Tom Taplin (Pro) 0:53.6224 (-0:00.6848)
9. #84 Brett Boulton (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 0:54.0229 (-0:01.0853)
10. #55 Sergio Pires (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 0:54.1643 (-0:01.2267)
11. #99 Ross McGregor (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 0:54.3706 (-0:01.4330)
12. #131 Graham Williams (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 0:54.6503 (-0:01.7127)
13. #10 Michael Loccisano (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 0:54.9006 (-0:01.9630)
14. #29 Rob Woods (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 0:54.9463 (-0:02.0087)
15. #17 Marcel Zalloua (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) (-0:55.3633 0:02.4257)
16. #91 Emanuel Palyaris (Class B) 0:55.4177 (-0:02.4801)
17. #87 David Greig (Class B) 0:55.4893 (-0:02.5517)
18. #21 Shane Barwood (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 0:55.8899 (-0:02.9523)
19. #5 Nathan Murray (Class B) 0:56.1774 (-0:03.2398)
20. #3 Jonathan Gliksten (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 0:57.0060 (-0:04.0684)
21. #22 Andrew Goldie (Class B) 0:57.6478 (-0:04.7102)
22. #9 Tony Martin (Class B) 0:58.4050 (-0:05.4674)